Iran, Italy seal multi-billion dollar deals

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Italian companies sign deals worth up to 18 billion dollars during his visit to Europe

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) is welcomed by Italian President Sergio Mattarella on his arrival at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome on January 25, 2016.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signed business deals worth up to 17 billion euros ($18.4 billion) on Monday with Italy, rebuilding ties with the West after economic sanctions on Iran were lifted after a nuclear deal with the country was reached.

Rouhani will stay in Rome for two days before leaving for France on Wednesday. A high-level delegation of 120 business leaders and ministers are accompanying the Iranian president on his trip.

Iran emerged from years of economic isolation when world powers last week lifted crippling sanctions against Tehran in return for complying with a deal to curb its nuclear ambitions.

The deal also released billions of dollars worth of frozen Iranian assets and opened the door for global companies that have been barred from doing business in Iran.

According to an Italian government source the deals are in sectors as varied as energy to infrastructure and steel to shipbuilding.

"We have signed the first accords but we are only at the start of a long road," Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, standing alongside Rouhani.

"I am sure this visit will be a fundamental part of our ability to overcome together the challenge of fighting terrorism, atrocity and evil that we all have to confront together," Renzi added.

In November a scheduled visit by Rouhani to Europe was cancelled after a DAESH terrorist attack on the French capital Paris, in which 130 people were killed.

"We have always been in the front line against terrorism ... we have to continue [cooperating with Italy] to secure a genuine peace in Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Libya," the Iranian president said.

Iran has announced plans to buy more than 160 European planes, mainly from Airbus. The deal is supposed to be signed on Wednesday in France. The country could need as many as 500 new planes over the next three years, lawmaker Mahdi Hashemi, the chairman of the parliament's Development Commission, said at Tehran's first major post-sanctions gathering of global businessmen.

A pipeline contract worth between $4 billion and $5 billion for oil services group Saipem was among the deals signed on Monday, while up to 5.7 billion euros in contracts for Italian steel firm Danieli. Condotte d'Acqua firm infrastructure took up to 4 billion euros.

France was involved but Italy wasn't in the long-term nuclear talks with Iran. France condemned the Iranian intervention in the Middle East and its support for Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad in the more than four-year-long-war in Syria.

On Tuesday, Rouhani will address up to 500 Italian business leaders and later will meet with Pope Francis.  

TRTWorld and agencies